When Healing is a Process
Dr. René Rochester and her best friend committed to each other they would get yearly mammograms. The year she almost missed it, Dr. Rochester was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Rochester discusses how her faith in God and the support of the community He placed around her sustained her through it all, including a recent scare.
About the Guest
- Listen to the entire episode "14: When Healing is a Process" from Unfavorable Odds™ with Kim Anthony with guest Dr. René Rochester. (1 hr. 5 min. podcast) https://www.familylife.com/podcast/unfavorable-odds/14-when-healing-is-a-process/
- Subscribe to the Unfavorable Odds™ podcast. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/unfavorable-odds/
- Check out all that's available on the FamilyLife Podcast Network. https://www.familylife.com/familylife-podcast-network/
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Dr. René Rochester and her best friend committed to each other they would get yearly mammograms. The year she almost missed it, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Rochester discusses how God sustained her.
When Healing is a Process
Bob: After a mammogram, René Rochester’s doctor sat down with René in her office.
René: She asked the question, “Do you know why you’re here?” I said, “I’m here because I got test results that didn’t look clear.” She said: “I’ll ask you again. Do you know why you’re here?” And she was trying to get me to say that I have cancer. I just—I just couldn’t get it out of my mouth.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 26th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ll hear today about René Rochester’s journey, battling breast cancer, and about how she is learning to walk closely with Jesus as her journey continues. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us here on the day after Christmas. Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas celebration. Today, we want you to hear a portion of a conversation that our friend, Kim Anthony, had recently with Dr. René Rochester. I don’t know how many of our listeners are listening to podcasts on a regular basis; I know some FamilyLife Today listeners—this is how you listen to us regularly—
Dave: That’s what we hear quite a bit.
Bob: —yes, through the app or you download the podcast; you’re signed up for that. FamilyLife® has a podcast network; and in addition to FamilyLife Today, Ron Deal has a podcast called FamilyLife Blended. Kim Anthony has a podcast called Unfavorable Odds. On Kim’s podcast, she talks to people who have faced significant adversity in their lives and have found strength in Christ in the face of this adversity.
Ann, we’re going to hear a portion of a conversation she had with a woman who got a diagnosis that no woman wants to get.
Ann: I think it’s a fear that every woman does have; and that is, that she finds out she has breast cancer. I’m telling you—every woman listening, if you’ve had a mammogram, there’s a sense of unrest, nervousness, and fear as you sit in that room, waiting to go in. René faced her greatest fear with her diagnosis. I think we often think, “What would I do if I had bad news?” So it’ll be interesting to hear this story.
Bob: Well, we’re going to dive right into the first part of the interview that Kim did with René Rochester for the Unfavorable Odds podcast. If you want to hear the entire conversation, this is Episode 14; and we’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com so you can listen to Kim’s conversation with René Rochester. But we’re going to pick things up where René got her initial diagnosis and began to become concerned.
[Unfavorable Odds Podcast]
René: It was November. Actually, it was late October, of 2016, and we almost skipped. “We’ve been good the last five years. We’re both getting a little older, so we probably don’t need to go.” We had decided we’re probably not going to go; and then she said, “No, just go ahead and go.” We went; she couldn’t get in, but I could get in. She goes, “I’ll just go later; you go today.” I said, “Okay, whatever!”
She left and I went and did my little mammogram thing. That was on the 21st of October; and then I get a call back and something in the mail, saying: “We need you to return. We need to do another test. We saw some things we didn’t like,” whatever. So I go back.
Kim: Okay, bring me in to what you’re feeling when you see the letter/you get the call.
René: Oh boy. Well, in all honesty, initially, I thought, “It’s probably just scar tissue—just something.” Yes, I didn’t know it was really any big deal. Sometimes it can be just small little tumors that are benign, because I had had a benign tumor on my left breast years ago—no big deal. Sometimes they’ll just see things; and so I thought, “Ah, no big deal. We’ll just go in and take care of it.”
I went back, still not thinking really anything. I go in; this time, they do another mammogram; but he said they wanted to do an ultrasound. I go back in for the ultrasound after they did the mammogram. I’m kind of lying back, and I could see out of my right eye—I’m looking at his face, and I’m looking at the nurse’s face. They’re trying just to be, I guess, stoic and act like they don’t see nothing. But you know, I’m looking at their faces, like “Hmm, they don’t look—hmm.” He looked real concerned, and I felt that in my gut. I thought, “Something’s not right.”
I didn’t know what the “something’s not right” is because he still wasn’t saying anything, because they don’t want to share anything while they’re doing the testing; because it’s non-definitive at that time. But I knew something wasn’t right by the look on his face and by what I was feeling. My heart started racing a little bit; I’m thinking, “Okay, what’s the deal?”
He says, “We need to check the [ultrasound], and we’ll get back with you.” That was on the 7th of November. Then on the 9th, he says: “Okay, we did the ultrasound. I think we need to do a biopsy. We see some tissue here that just doesn’t look right.”
So in the meantime, I do a Monday night Bible study with my women. We had been studying about your faith walk is not just for you. We’re talking about the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’ daughter, who was sick unto the point of death—and just how, if he had not gone to Jesus, the woman with the issue of blood wouldn’t have been healed and if she had not said to Him what had happened. He turns to her and says: “Woman, your faith has made you whole. Go in peace.”
Then He turns around and immediately the Bible says He hears the people coming over the hill, saying: “Don’t bother the teacher anymore. Your daughter has died.” Jesus looked at him and He said, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.”
I knew then, when we were teaching that Bible study, while I’m waiting on the results of the biopsy—because I had to go in for a biopsy the following—I guess it was on the 9th. They just started moving real quickly. So I had a Monday night Bible study prior to getting a diagnosis. I just told the women—I said: “We’re just going to believe the Lord that it’s really not anything,” and then we’d been walking through that faith journey piece in the Word.
I get a call that day, the following week. I’m on my way to work, and I usually pray with Annita every morning. I’m calling her and her phone—she’s not picking up. I keep getting her voicemail. I’m like: “What is wrong! She knows I call her in the morning. Why isn’t she picking up the phone?!” I was a little irritated with her actually.
I finally get through. She [Annita] goes [sounds sorrowful], “Hello”; and I’m like “What is wrong with you?” [Speaking sorrowfully] “I just talked to Steven. He needs to get ahold of you at work. He’s going to call you at work.” I said, “Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.” I said, “What is wrong with you?” “Steven heard from the doctor.” I said, “Okay”; and she couldn’t press him. He just could tell—only thing he could say to her: “It wasn’t good news.” [I said,] “They got the results?” She said [sorrowfully], “Yes.” I said “Okay.”
That’s all I said really, for about the first month, Kim—was “Okay,” because I didn’t know what was next. I just said “Okay.” She said, “He’s going to call you because it wasn’t good.” I said, “Okay!” She was so upset. Now, mind you, she had lost a sister 10 years ago, and I’m like a sister to her. We are so close, and we’ve been journeying together with Jesus for over 20 years.
He calls me and he said: “This is what’s going on. It’s an invasive mammary carcinoma.” All I heard was the invasive piece. I’m like, “The devil is a liar,” in my mind and I’m thinking; but my heart’s racing 100 miles an hour. Then I stopped for a minute, I said, “Okay,” again. I guess every time I was saying, “Okay,” the Lord was just telling me, “It’s going to be okay,”—didn’t know that then—“But it’s okay.” I just wanted to know, “What’s the next step?” He [Steven] says, “You’re going to get a call today, probably two calls.” He said: “We’re not waiting on this. It’s very invasive. We’re moving swiftly.”
Sure enough, I parked in the parking lot at work. I get out of the car. I hadn’t been out of the car for about, maybe, five minutes—unloading my stuff—still trying to process what I just heard, and then the phone rings. I got the phone call from the oncologist. She said, “You’re going to get a call from Vanderbilt,”—no, actually, Vanderbilt called first and then the oncologist called me. This thing is moving; I hadn’t even gotten into the building yet.
By the time I got into the building, they had scheduled my next meeting to go in to meet with the surgeon. That’s how fast we were moving. I walked in the building; I stood there for a second. One of my colleagues was there; she goes, “You okay?” I’m like, “No!” She goes, “What?” “I—I”—I said—“I have cancer; huh?!”—that’s what I said, literally—no tears, no nothing—just “Huh?!” because I didn’t know what to do with it. It was kind of like [explosion sound].
I walked in; I told my headmaster—I said “Listen, this is what happened this morning.” He said: “My goodness! Do you want me to tell your students?” I said, “No sir.” I said, “I need to tell them.”
Bob: Well, let me step in here. We’ve been listening to an excerpt from an interview that Kim Anthony did for the Unfavorable Odds podcast that’s part of the FamilyLife Podcast Network—a conversation with Dr. René Rochester, where Dr. Rochester received her diagnosis that she indeed had breast cancer.
I had to wonder, Ann, how many listeners were hearing her story and thinking, “I remember the day I got my diagnosis.”
Ann: —or remember the day one of their loved ones or friend was diagnosed, and they found the news. My sister, at 44, called me to tell me—and she’s in perfect health—she said, “I want you to know that I went to the gynecologist.” They’d heard some fluid in her lungs, and they took some fluid out; and she was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage four.
Bob: Oh my word.
Ann: It just hits you. You don’t even know how to process it. I think, as I listened to René, I’m thinking that same thing. She didn’t know how to process it; and I’m sure the people around her were trying to struggle with: “How do we process?” and “How do we bring God into this?” It’s hard; it’s really hard.
Bob: This is where you need community. This is where you need people around you, who can walk this path with you; because this is a hard path to walk.
Ann: You know what I love? I love her relationship with her best friend.
Ann: That part for me was just like: “Yes! She has someone to walk beside her; to carry her; to pray for her, besides Jesus.” That is such a healing for our souls and help.
Bob: Well, we’re going to pick things back up where Kim began to interact with René about how she worked through the news of the diagnosis and how she counseled her own heart and soul in the midst of that. Here’s another excerpt from Kim Anthony’s podcast, Unfavorable Odds, with Dr. René Rochester.
[Unfavorable Odds Podcast]
Kim: Now, you said something that stood out to me. You said that either the Lord is going to heal you on this side of heaven or the other side of heaven. When you said it, it was just matter of fact, which makes me think that you were okay with this; it wasn’t a struggle for you.
René: I think, where I am now of understanding and being on the side of where I am in the journey, I knew that He was Rapha—no doubt in my mind. I could quote all the Scriptures. Sometimes you know in your heart and your head what is right, but your emotions have to catch up with what you know in your gut is true.
At night, I would lie in bed, “Now, Father, if this is what You have, I don’t understand it; but I know You are faithful.” I had gotten a call from a couple of people. Different ones, really, felt—I remember talking to Madeline Mims and she said, “I believe this will be a story for God’s glory, and whether”—like I said: I have seen people/I’ve prayed for people—I’ve seen them healed on this side of glory, and I’ve prayed for people and I’ve seen them healed on the other side of glory. So what I did with my Bible study—and I tell you my mother’s a woman of faith. She just started believing that He is Rapha; and she said to me—she goes: “I wish it were me, but it’s not. But I’m believing God to restore you whole.”
I had people praying for me to be restored, whole, on this side of glory; but we hold to the truth of God’s Word that says it’s not up to us to know the times or seasons of God, which He’s fixed by His own authority. I said, “But while I have breath to breathe, I’m going to believe that He’s able.” Now, how that turns out—and I think what we think a lot of times—people pray for healing, expecting a miracle.
And they’re two different things. The Lord spoke very clearly to my heart, from the Scripture, as we were doing Bible study, that this was going to be a faith walk. I didn’t know how long the walk was going to be, how long a journey it was going to be, if the journey was going to continue on the other side of glory—all I knew is: “He said it’s a faith walk, and it’s going to be okay; but this is going to be a journey. It’s not going to be [clap] a presto-chango.” I think miracles are instantaneous; but one of the words for healing is the [Greek] word, therapeuo, which means therapy; and you don’t just go one time.
Kim: What was the type of treatment you received?
René: Okay, well I went in November 18th and I had—here’s my trio: I had Annita, my mother, and my younger sister with me—all three of us, trying to march in together.
Kim: Your entourage.
René: Yes, we go in together: “Surely goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life”; no anyway. [Laughter] But we go in and, in all honesty, Kim, I was nervous; but I had a peace. I giggled about stuff, and she [oncologist] was so personable; and we laughed. My mother got tickled, because when she told me she was from Chile, I started speaking a little Spanish.
She looked; and my mother and sister looked at each other, because they don’t know like how I roll, you know, when I’m in—I said, “Yes.” I said, “Jesucristo sana mi corazón,”: “Jesus Christ heals my heart”; because she told—you know, because the hardest thing for me in that meeting—with her nurse, even before she got in there—is that she asked the question, “Do you know why you’re here?” and I said, “Yes.” She goes “Why are you here?” I said, “I’m here because I got test results that didn’t look clear.” She goes, “I’ll ask you again. Do you know why you’re here?”
And she was trying to get me to say—I could see my mother and them looking at me—and she was trying to get me to say that: “I have cancer,” and I just couldn’t get it out of my mouth at first. I went, “Oh, well, the cells were cancerous.” She said “Okay, now we can begin.” I was like, “Oh boy, here we go!”
Kim: Why did you think it was important for you to say that word?
René: They want you to own the fact of the reality of where you are. The Word tells us to “Be anxious about nothing but in everything, with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God; and He’ll give you a peace that surpasses your comprehension. He’ll guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.”
You talk about the reality: “Now, Father, we’ve got some problems here. Now, I know you know; I know you know, but I’m not there yet!” I wasn’t ready to embrace it, I guess, in my mind; but when I had to say it out of my mouth, it was like “Okay”; then everything started moving in fast motion.
Kim: What do you say to those people, who believe that because you said it, that did something to create more of a problem?—those people who say: “Well, you know what? I refuse to say that I’m sick. I refuse to say that I have cancer,”—or any other disease—“because I’m,”—I guess—“speaking that into existence.” [Laughter] I might be getting myself in trouble asking this.
René: No, no girl; because I’m going to go right down that street with you; because, like I said, I’m a faith woman: I love the Lord, Holy Ghost-filled, love the Word of God, pray the Word of God, believe the Word of God. I do believe that death and life are in the power of the tongue—I know that Scripture—but I think we have to look at the text in its context.
When I said, out of my mouth—she’s trying to get me to own the fact of what I have: “You have cancer.” Right now, there are cancer cells in my body. I know God is the healer of cancer; but currently, in this present state, cancer cells are there. I can’t deny that, so what do we do with that?
I think, sometimes, when we grab things and just run with it—because “Well, the Bible says…”—but look at the text in its context. If this little earth suit wasn’t a reality, Jesus wouldn’t have come in an earth suit. God sent His Son in an earth suit. It says in Hebrews 5:7—it says, “In the days of His flesh.” The Bible says, “He offered up loud crying and tears to the only One who was able to save Him, and He was heard because of His piety.”
I think for us—we forget about His humanity, trying to safeguard His deity. He says, “You can be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” He overcame it so we can overcome it. So what we do now—we follow suit with what He did. He offered up—it says—loud crying and tears, so there were days that he had to cry out to God. There were days he cried; there were days He mourned; there were days He got angry, but He did not sin. We have to be honest with what comes our way, but we take it to the One who is the healer.
If I’m a faith-believing/faith-talking woman, when the cancer is recognized as an enemy coming in my camp, now I’ve got to know how to strategically fight against that cancer. It’s not that: “You’re going—you’re confessing; you’re confessing…”—no, no, no. Confess—the word is homologous: “to say the same thing as.” When you confess that He is Rapha in the midst of your cancer. He only can be the Healer if He has something to heal, so you have to admit you have something to heal for Him to be the Healer.
Bob: Well, again, I hate to break in. We’ve been listening to a portion of a conversation that Kim Anthony had with Dr. René Rochester about processing her own diagnosis with breast cancer. There is always that dilemma of knowing that our God is the Great Physician, who can heal whatever He chooses to heal; but in this life there are a lot of things we look at and go, “Lord, why didn’t You heal that one?” We don’t understand the purposes and the mind of God; but we have to trust that He knows what He’s doing, and what He is doing is right.
Ann: And I think what she said, “He will heal me—on either this side of heaven or the next,” and that is true. He is the Healer and He will. We just don’t know which way it will happen.
That’s hard to really process that because we all want to be healed on this side of heaven, and we want our loved ones healed on this side of heaven. I will say, as I watch people—and I watched my sister struggle with lung cancer, and she was only 44—the thing that struck me was her dependence on God: her dependence on the Holy Spirit/her dependence on God’s Word coming alive in her; because she could have just mourned and grieved, which you have to do. But it could have taken her to a point, where she couldn’t even take a breath because of the fear; and yet, she would put on praise music. Do you remember this Dave?
Dave: Oh yes.
Ann: She would put on praise music. She would watch this worship and listen; and she couldn’t stand up, but she would have me help her stand up. She would lift her hands, and she said it was like it took her to a whole other world.
Bob: And did God take her home?
Ann: He did. He took her home; and He healed her on the other side of heaven, and she’s with Him. But to watch her cling to Him was one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed in terms of courage, and bravery, and dependence on God through the good and through the bad.
Bob: I have to imagine listeners listening to this—this has been a hard interview for some of them to listen to. Some of them are going to want to hear the entire conversation, which you can do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com; and there’s a link there to the FamilyLife Podcast Network, which includes, not only Kim Anthony’s podcast, Unfavorable Odds; but also Ron Deal’s podcast, FamilyLife Blended; and the Married with Benefits podcast with Brian Goins and Shaunti Feldhahn.
You can also listen to FamilyLife Today as a podcast. If that’s easier for you to subscribe to FamilyLife Today as a podcast, that’s easy to do. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for the FamilyLife Podcast Network page.
Did I also mention you can listen to FamilyLife Today on your smart speaker? You can train it to listen to FamilyLife Today. If you got a smart speaker for Christmas, that should be one of the first things you do with it; right? Again, there’s more information available about all of this—go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We have resources listed there to help you if you are in the midst of a journey like the one we’ve heard about today from René Rochester. There’s a great book by Jerry Sittser called A Grace Disguised that you can order from us, or a book called Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem You in Tragedy. Now you can check those out, again, on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com.
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And I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how we can help our kids understand and grow in the fruit of the Spirit. How do we help them get their arms around this concept and begin to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit in their lives? Josh and Christi Straub are going to join us tomorrow. I hope you can join us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch. He got a little help today from Mark Ramey. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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